Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Parliament: Singapore responds to Mahathir's articulation on the High Speed Rail and Water Agreements

Singapore spent $250 million on HSR project, expects to spend another $40 million by December 2018, 'completely wasted expenditure' if project cancelled says Khaw Boon Wan

Singapore to seek RM743 million (and counting) compensation if HSR project cancelled

Singapore will honour 1962 Water Agreement and expects Malaysia to do the same, says Vivian Balakrishnan

Malaysia took a conscious decision not to revisit the price of raw water that it was selling to Singapore when it had the opportunity to do so in 1987, when the 1962 water agreement was up for review

Mahathir says Singapore knows what Malaysia wants to do with High-Speed Rail in latest public statement (but is refusing to confirm officially) on the termination of the project

Singapore stands by its High-Speed Rail (HSR) and water pact obligations, says Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan
Respecting sanctity of international deals a tenet basic to Republic's foreign policy
By Yasmine Yahya, Senior Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

Singapore yesterday reiterated that upholding international law and respecting the sanctity of international agreements is a tenet basic to its foreign policy.

That is why, in keeping its end of the bargain, Singapore has already spent more than $250 million on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, and is likely to expend another $40 million or so by year-end, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.

It is also why Singapore will honour the terms of its Water Agreement with Malaysia and expects its neighbour to do the same, added Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament.

Responding to a question from Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) on bilateral ties with Malaysia, Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore is still meeting its obligations on the HSR while waiting for Malaysia to clarify its position.

He added that the sanctity of international agreements is critical for a small state like Singapore.

If countries were to unilaterally revise or abandon terms of agreements, this would be "manifestly a recipe for disaster'', he said.

This principle lies at the crux of the HSR issue, he added.

Singapore signed the HSR Bilateral Agreement (BA) in 2016 in good faith, after both sides had negotiated and agreed to all the provisions, including those dealing with the eventuality that the HSR is terminated, Dr Balakrishnan said.

In recent weeks, he said, some Malaysian leaders have talked of terminating the project.

Dr Balakrishnan noted that Singapore had sent a third-person note to the Malaysian government seeking clarification of Malaysia's position on the HSR, but it has not replied.

Saying that the Government has a duty to safeguard public funds by recovering the costs, he added: "Should Malaysia cause the HSR project to be terminated, we will deal with the question of compensation from Malaysia for costs incurred in accordance with the BA and international law."

The same principle underlies the 1962 Water Agreement between Singapore and Malaysia, he said.

Recounting past statements made by then Foreign Ministers S. Jayakumar in 2003 and K. Shanmugam in 2014 on water, Dr Balakrishnan said: "As was stated then, the core issue is "not how much we pay, but how any price revision is decided upon".

Malaysia lost its right to review the price of water under the agreement when it did not do so in 1987, he said, adding that neither Singapore nor Malaysia can unilaterally change the terms of the deal.

Singapore will fully honour the terms of the deal and expects Malaysia to do the same, he said.

While asserting the Republic's position on these issues, Dr Balakrishnan also made it clear that Singapore is committed to working with Malaysia's new government.

"A stable and prosperous Malaysia is good for Singapore and for our region," he said. "We have generally enjoyed a positive and constructive relationship with successive Malaysian governments and leaders, and we believe there is still much for us to achieve together."

In this and other foreign policy matters, Singapore stands by its fundamental principles, he added.

Aside from respecting international agreements, Singapore believes disputes should be resolved in accordance with international law, and that it should maintain a reputation as a credible, trusted and consistent partner, he said.

Singapore and Malaysia, he said, "must work with each other on the basis that both sides will fully respect the sanctity of international agreements, and that any disputes are resolved peacefully in accordance with international law".

"Provided this condition is met, we are confident bilateral relations will prosper, to the mutual benefit of both countries."

Singapore has already spent S$250 million on HSR project: Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament
Another $40 million will be spent by year-end; a significant sum will be wasted if project does not proceed
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

Singapore has already spent more than $250 million on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, and is likely to expend another $40 million or so by year-end, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed in Parliament yesterday.

Replying to questions from several MPs on the status of the HSR, Mr Khaw said that based on preliminary estimates, the costs incurred had "already exceeded $250 million".

"This is actual money that has already been spent, our taxpayers' money," he said. "We can recover value for some of the expenditure, even if the HSR project does not proceed. But a significant amount which has been spent will be completely wasted expenditure if the project does not proceed."

Mr Khaw said the expenditure included land acquisition, setting up of an infrastructure company - SG HSR Pte Ltd - and the formation of a team of more than 100 specialists in the company "to build, own, fund and maintain the HSR civil infrastructure in Singapore".

And by May, SG HSR had called five tenders to construct civil infrastructure within Singapore.

Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, said the bilateral agreement with Malaysia "provides for how compensation is to be dealt with" should either side decide not to proceed.

He added that Singapore sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia on June 1 "to seek immediate clarification on Malaysia's position".

"To date, Singapore has still not received a reply from the Malaysian Government," he said, adding that public statements made by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and other Malaysian ministers - through various press interviews - on the termination of the project "have not been followed through with any official communication".

Mr Khaw said: "At this point, therefore, we have been left with no choice but to continue performing in accordance with the bilateral agreement, and thus continue to incur more costs."

Last month, Singapore incurred more than $6 million; and it expects to incur another $6 million this month.

"These costs will increase rapidly with time," Mr Khaw said. "From August to end-December 2018, we will need to spend at least $40 million more."

He said: "Because the costs that we have incurred will add to the total amount of compensation, it is in Malaysia's own interest to officially inform us of its position on the HSR project early, to minimise the amounts involved."

Mr Khaw said he highlighted this to Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali "when he called me on June 6". Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon has also "conveyed the same points" to Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

"However, we have yet to receive the details from Malaysia," he noted.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told the House that should Malaysia cause the HSR project to be terminated, Singapore will deal with the question of compensation for costs incurred, in accordance with the binding agreement signed with Malaysia and international law.

"The Singapore Government has a duty to safeguard public funds by recovering these costs," he said.

Asked for his views, urban transport expert Park Byung Joon, an associate professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences' school of business, said there was little choice for Singapore except to proceed with the project until Malaysia sends an official cancellation note.

"We can hold off awarding further contracts, but suspending all work is not as easy as it sounds," Dr Park said. "You would need to start from scratch if the eventual decision was to proceed. That would be costly. A lot of companies have also spent a lot of effort on their bids already."

Malaysia chose not to review water pact in 1987, says Vivian Balakrishnan
KL didn't ask for revision then as it would have affected price of water sold to Johor
By Yasmine Yahya, Senior Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

In 1987, Malaysia had the right to review the price of water under the 1962 Water Agreement. But it chose not to, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday.

In fact, its leaders subsequently also acknowledged they chose not to ask for the review because the pricing arrangement under the 1962 agreement benefited them, he told the House.

Water, however, is in the spotlight again as a potential bilateral issue after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said about a fortnight ago that the price at which raw water is sold to Singapore is "ridiculous".

Dr Balakrishnan yesterday reiterated that the 1962 Water Agreement (62WA) is no ordinary agreement, as it was guaranteed by both countries in the 1965 Separation Agreement, which was registered with the United Nations.

"Any breach of the 62WA would call into question the Separation Agreement, which is the basis for Singapore's very existence as an independent sovereign state," he said.

The agreement allows Singapore to draw up to 250 million gallons of raw water daily from Johor state at three sen (1 Singapore cent) per 1,000 gallons.

Johor then buys treated water from Singapore at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons, as provided for under the deal. This is a fraction of the cost to Singapore of treating the water, Dr Balakrishnan noted.

"Hence, in 2002, then PM Dr Mahathir said Malaysia did not ask for a review when it was due as Malaysia knew that any revision would also affect the price of treated water sold by Singapore to Malaysia," he added.

It costs Singapore RM2.40 to treat every 1,000 gallons of water. By selling it to Malaysia at 50 sen, Singapore is giving a subsidy of RM1.90 per 1,000 gallons.

Johor then sells it to its people at RM3.95 per 1,000 gallons, earning a profit of RM3.45 per 1,000 gallons, or RM46 million a year.

Dr Balakrishnan noted that in 2002, then Johor State Assembly Speaker Zainalabidin Mohd Zain said a review in 1986 of the water price was pointless because Johor relied on Singapore for treated water, and Singapore would have priced it higher for Johor.

The minister also said Johor buys more treated water from Singapore than it is entitled to under the 1962 deal. The extra supply, requested by Johor, is sold at the rate given in the 1962 agreement, on a goodwill basis.

Dr Balakrishnan added that if Malaysia had exercised the right to review the water price in 1986/ 1987, Singapore might have made different investment decisions on developing the Johor River and its water catchment areas.

Citing the Linggiu Dam, he noted that in 1990, Singapore's national water agency PUB and Johor signed an agreement to build the dam to increase the yield of the Johor River so that PUB can reliably get its full entitlement of 250 million gallons of water daily.

Johor owns the Linggiu Dam, but Singapore paid for its construction and operation costs.

The dam - with other saddle embankments and ancillary works to create the Linggiu Reservoir - was completed in April 1993 at a cost of $310 million.

The construction and operation costs are on top of the RM320 million (S$208 million at 1990 rates) paid to Johor in 1990 as compensation for the land used for the Linggiu Reservoir project and for the potential loss of revenue from logging activities. It is a one-time payment as well for the lease of that land for the remaining tenure of the 1962 agreement, Dr Balakrishnan said.

Singapore's approach to the water issue is supported by three fundamental principles of its foreign policy, he added.

These are sticking up for international law and respecting the sanctity of international agreements, resolving disputes according to international law and upholding Singapore's reputation as a credible, trusted and consistent partner, and a country that abides fully by its international obligations.

"This reputation creates political and economic space for Singapore and Singaporeans," Dr Balakrishnan said. "This is especially crucial as we are an international financial centre."

The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

Singapore can draw up to 250 million gallons of raw water from Johor daily at three sen (1 Singapore cent) per 1,000 gallons under the 1962 Water Agreement.

It costs Singapore RM2.40 to treat every 1,000 gallons of water. It sells treated water to Johor at 50 sen, providing Malaysia a subsidy of RM1.90 per 1,000 gallons.

Johor then sells the water to its residents at RM3.95 per 1,000 gallons, earning a profit of RM3.45 per 1,000 gallons, or RM46 million a year.

Johor is entitled to buy up to 5 million gallons of treated water a day under the 1962 Water Agreement, but it has regularly bought more than this - up to 16 million gallons of treated water a day.

The Linggiu dam, together with other saddle embankments and ancillary works to create the Linggiu Reservoir, was completed at a cost of $310 million to Singapore.

Singapore also paid RM320 million (S$208 million at 1990 rates) to Johor in 1990 as compensation for the land used for the Linggiu Reservoir project and for the potential loss of revenue from logging activities, and as a one-time payment for the lease of that land for the remaining tenure of the 1962 agreement.

No link between funding of HSR project and decision to raise GST: Lawrence Wong
Status of HSR project has no bearing on GST plans; Raising tax is to help fund rising expenditures in areas like healthcare, security and social spending
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

The possible cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project will have no bearing on plans to raise the goods and services tax (GST), said Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, stressing that both matters are not linked.

He was responding to Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who asked if the HSR being scrapped would have any implications on plans to raise the GST from 7 per cent to 9 per cent.

"Mr Singh has tried to link the prospect of the HSR project being cancelled to the government announcement to raise GST," said Mr Wong. "But these are two separate matters."

The GST hike, due some time between 2021 and 2025, was never meant to finance lumpy investments in infrastructure such as the HSR, he said. Rather, it is one way to raise recurrent revenues to pay for ongoing needs such as healthcare, security and social spending, which are expected to drive government expenditure up in the years to come, he said.

"Therefore, the underlying rationale for the GST rate increase is not affected by the outcome of the HSR project," he said.

"Our population will continue to age. More Singaporeans will need support to care for their loved ones. Ultimately, the Government will require more recurrent sources of revenue to support these needs."

Meanwhile, Singapore's approach to financing infrastructure investments involves saving ahead and setting aside funds through initiatives like the Rail Infrastructure Fund, noted Mr Wong.

This is also done through borrowing by statutory boards and government-owned companies.

Mr Singh then asked if the Finance Ministry would consider lowering the Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) to the government budget if the HSR is scrapped. The NIRC allows up to half of the expected long-term interest income from the reserves to be used in each year's Budget.

Mr Wong replied: "Again, I think Mr Singh is trying to link things that are clearly of no relationship at all."

He reiterated that infrastructure projects such as the HSR are financed separately through borrowing, saying this helps to "smoothen the expenditure of these projects over the longer period to better match the benefits of the projects".

Another issue he rebutted had to do with PUB's accounts. Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) had asked for a clarification on the national water agency's capital reserve.

This followed a video posted by the Workers' Party (WP) on its Facebook page in which it noted that PUB's capital reserve had gone up from $3 billion to $5.3 billion over the last decade. Mr Singh also referred to the issue in a speech in Parliament in May.

Mr Wong said the WP's interpretation of the capital reserve as a "hoard of cash surplus" was "completely inaccurate, and demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of accounting fundamentals".

Most of the funds are already invested in property, plant and equipment. This includes the upgrading of waterworks, water reclamation plant expansions and investments in water treatment process - "important investments to ensure a secure and sustainable water supply for Singapore".

Mr Wong also said that the capital reserve alone, in fact, has not been sufficient to cover the agency's infrastructure investments, and it has had to borrow from the capital markets, and will continue to do so.

"In short, there is no surplus cash in PUB. It is either ignorant or completely disingenuous to link the water price increase with the PUB's capital reserve, as there is absolutely no basis to do so," he added. "I hope this clarification will set the record straight. I also hope the Workers' Party will refrain from distorting the facts to mislead the public."

Mr Wong said he hoped WP would post his response on its Facebook page to correct the record.

In a Facebook post last night, Mr Singh acknowledged the WP video and text "creates the impression that the PUB hosts a $5.3b surplus". He added that he has asked for the video to be taken down, given Mr Wong's clarification. He also shared a video of the exchange in Parliament.

No official notification from Malaysia yet on Rapid Transit System (RTS) link to Johor Baru, says Khaw Boon Wan
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

Singapore has not heard "anything officially" from Malaysia on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link between Woodlands and Johor Baru since its new government came into power.

Updating the House yesterday on the rail link - which will be an extension of the upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT line - Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke told Channel NewsAsia on May 30 that "the RTS will proceed", although Malaysia would "have to re-study the project in terms of cost and so on".

"The following day, he also told our Shin Min newspaper that he hoped the project could be accelerated," Mr Khaw said. "However, we have not heard anything officially from the Malaysians on their intentions on the RTS Link."

Singapore's SMRT and Malaysia's national rail operator Prasarana Malaysia were to have incorporated a joint venture company to operate the RTS Link by June 30 this year.

"That did not happen, as Prasarana had suspended discussions with SMRT after Malaysia's general election," Mr Khaw revealed. "This means that both countries should now proceed to call an open, international tender to appoint the RTS Link operator, unless we mutually agree on a postponement of the deadline."

Under the agreement, both countries are to call an open tender to appoint an operator should Prasarana and SMRT fail to form a joint venture.

Mr Khaw added: "We look forward to the completion and operation of the RTS Link, which will be able to transport 10,000 travellers per direction per hour between Singapore and JB."

In the meantime, he said, Singapore "will continue to work with Malaysia to reduce congestion through other means".

Both sides lowered tolls during the off-peak hours at Tuas Checkpoint earlier this year to encourage motorists to travel outside the peak periods.

"We also agreed to Malaysia's suggestion to increase the number of KTMB Tebrau Shuttle services from 26 to 31 daily, which has been implemented since mid-February," he said.

But he said these measures "are not the complete solution", and that the RTS Link is needed to cope with the "several hundred thousand commuter trips" made daily through land checkpoints of the two countries.

An MRT extension into Johor Baru was first mooted in 1991. Then Communications Minister Mah Bow Tan said the Woodlands MRT line - now part of the North-South Line - would be designed to accommodate an extension into Johor Baru. Such an extension was endorsed and agreed to in principle by both countries, Mr Mah noted.

But the project was revisited only two decades later, when it was announced in 2012 that such a link would be up by this year. The latest target, before Malaysia's new government came into power, was 2024.

Vision for Jurong Lake District unchanged regardless of HSR outcome, says Lawrence Wong
Plans for Jurong Lake District will go ahead
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

The vision for Jurong Lake District has not changed, regardless of how the high-speed rail (HSR) project between Singapore and Malaysia turns out, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

Transformation plans for the area were developed well before Malaysia proposed the rail project, and are part of the broader effort to develop urban centres outside the downtown area, bringing jobs, amenities and recreational options closer to homes, he added.

He noted that work to transform Jurong started in 2008.

The fate of the area - touted as Singapore's second Central Business District, with the HSR terminus as its centrepiece - has been in the spotlight after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in May that his country plans to scrap the multi-billion-dollar HSR project.

His pronouncement sparked concerns among Singaporeans that the development of the 360ha Jurong Lake District may be affected adversely.

But Mr Wong provided assurance in Parliament yesterday that the plans will go ahead when ready, even if some details need to be adjusted along the way, as circumstances change.

Asked whether there would be delays if the HSR were to be cancelled, Mr Wong said adjustments - which may include that of timing - would have to be made, though it was "difficult to speculate now".

Plans for Jurong Lake District include the development of a commercial precinct and building of up to 20,000 new homes, the upgrading of Jurong Lake Gardens and the development of a major transport hub connecting the existing North-South and East-West MRT lines, as well as the upcoming Jurong Region and Cross Island lines.

Mr Wong said: "These plans are still relevant today. The land parcels that the Government has acquired are needed to realise these plans."

He said Jurong Country Club - which was acquired in 2015 - will provide for new mixed-use developments and community facilities, while Raffles Country Club is needed for the Cross Island Line's western depot and other transport-related uses.

Raffles Country Club will be handed over to the Government by the end of this month.

Singapore took 1MDB-related enforcement actions to protect its reputation, says Vivian Balakrishnan
Singapore has taken firm action over 1MDB
By Charissa Yong, Regional Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

Singapore has been thoroughly investigating 1MDB-related offences committed here since 2015, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday.

"We took these enforcement and regulatory actions not because of political calculations, but because it is in our national interest to reaffirm and protect Singapore's reputation as a clean, transparent and trusted international financial centre," he said in Parliament.

"We do not tolerate the misuse of our financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds."

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking on the 1MDB scandal in response to a question on the state of relations between Singapore and Malaysia.

Malaysia has intensified its investigation into how millions went missing from the 1MDB state fund and related entities after voting in a new government at its May 9 general election.

Singaporean and Malaysian agencies also met several times over the past few months on 1MDB matters.

Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore had taken firm action since 2015 against those who have broken laws here in relation to the scandal - two banks have been shut down, some others fined for regulatory breaches, and individuals jailed and fined.

"So far, we are the only jurisdiction to have done so," he said.

He added that Singapore has also cooperated fully with Malaysia's official requests for information on 1MDB-related transactions, providing this information in 30 exchanges between March 2015 and August 2016.

This included proactively providing Malaysia with additional information on 1MDB-related fund flows on multiple occasions, he added.

"We will continue to assist the Malaysian government in its own investigations," said Dr Balakrishnan.

He added that Singapore has also informed the Malaysian government that it can go through Singapore's courts to establish ownership of any assets seized here that can be traced to 1MDB, and recover them.

KL's dithering over HSR will hurt its reputation and taxpayers on both sides
By Elgin Toh, Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 10 July 2018

The depth and breadth of the fallout for Singapore arising from Malaysia's dithering over the high-speed rail (HSR) project was evident from yesterday's Parliament sitting.

In monetary terms, the total cost borne by Singapore on the project so far is over $250 million. And by year-end at least another $40 million or so will have been incurred, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed.

It is telling that the questions filed by MPs on the issue had to be answered by four different ministries - a sign of how extensive the consequences of this saga are, affecting multiple areas in Singapore's governance system.

Besides already costing a lot of money, Malaysia's HSR decision - or indecision - also impacts urban development plans in the Jurong Lake District, where land has been acquired by the Singapore Government for the HSR and other projects, not to mention impacting the companies that have spent time and money preparing to bid for the project. Companies have hitherto been taking the project "very seriously", Mr Khaw noted.

And as Second Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said: "Unless the project is terminated, Singapore has to meet our obligations under the legally binding HSR bilateral agreement and will continue to incur costs in this regard."

What is most disappointing about this case is not the fact that an incoming Malaysian government has apparently chosen to overturn a decision by the previous government. That would be regrettable but still somewhat understandable. After all, elections are designed to be an avenue for electorates to make their views known. And if the new government has indeed won by campaigning on a platform that included cancelling the project, it can choose to do so. Many Singaporeans will get that.

(Indeed, if it campaigned on false pretences and then goes back on its word by pressing ahead with the project, that is arguably more morally problematic - but that is a scenario for another discussion.)

The real problem here is that it is seemingly cancelling the project without actually cancelling the project.

As Mr Khaw alluded to yesterday, the Malaysian government may have made up its mind to cancel - which is what some of its public statements clearly show - but is refusing to confirm this officially. It has thus far ignored Singapore's diplomatic note seeking clarification. This is, many would argue, irresponsible and disingenuous, not to mention extremely unfair to Singapore taxpayers.

The Malaysian government knows that if it were to officially notify Singapore of the termination, the question of compensation for costs incurred by Singapore immediately arises. This would be painful for them. But the alternative - which is to stall for time and say the project is being "postponed", when in fact there is no longer any intention of fulfilling the contract - does not resolve the problem. It merely kicks the can down the road.

The cost estimates are likely to go up further. What was not said yesterday, but stands to reason, is that companies preparing to bid for the project will now jack up prices significantly if they still choose to bid. The uncertainties will be factored into their bids. For the same job, the Singapore taxpayer will be paying higher-than-normal prices - a premium courtesy of the Malaysian government.

The right thing for the Malaysian government to do is to either cancel the project, or proceed with it (and say so unequivocally), or say it needs more time to decide (and state how much more time), or ask formally for a change in the project - if that is what it wants.

The fourth option was pointed out by Mr Khaw yesterday, when he said: "There are appropriate processes at law in case Malaysia should wish to propose changes to the bilateral agreement."

To refuse to take any of these four paths is simply showing bad faith.

But there is one more reason the Malaysian government should desist from its current behaviour: The chickens will come home to roost, because the Malaysian government is, in the long run, hurting Malaysian taxpayers most.

First, by dragging the case out and causing more costs to be incurred, it is simply racking up a larger eventual bill for Malaysian taxpayers. Should the case finally go before a court or an arbitration tribunal, these costs will be charged to Malaysia. If it chooses to terminate now, the bill will be much smaller. Of course, the Malaysian government may not have any intention to pay. But if push comes to shove, the Singapore Government can take action against assets in Singapore belonging to the Malaysian government. That is drastic action, but Singaporeans should support such action should the day come.

Second, none of what is happening in this contract will be lost on the next country or company that negotiates a deal with either the Malaysian government or its state-owned enterprises. If Malaysia develops a reputation for not honouring contracts and for acting in bad faith, it will either not be able to find partners for projects it wants to work on, or the partners may be willing to enter deals only for a much higher fee.

Mr Khaw was right when he said yesterday: "It is in Malaysia's own interest to clarify its position early."

Mahathir says Singapore knows what Malaysia wants to do with HSR project
By Hazlin Hassan, Malaysia Correspondent, The Straits Times, 11 Jul 2018

PUTRAJAYA • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday said the government has not yet officially informed Singapore of its decision on the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

"We have not given them full notice yet but they know what we want to do," Tun Dr Mohamad told reporters.

"When we make a decision and announce it, the market reacts negatively. The market apparently likes to be told lies about how good everything is... But if we tell them we have discovered a lot of wrongdoings, they react by running away... they stop investing," he said.

"But in fact what we are doing now is to ensure that this country is financially run properly.

"So that is why we have to be very careful about what we say," he added.

Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament on Monday that the Republic had sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia on June 1 "to seek immediate clarification on Malaysia's position", but it "has still not received a reply".

Public statements on the termination of the project made by Dr Mahathir and his ministers - through media interviews - "have not been followed through with any official communication to us", he added.

Mr Khaw said Singapore has no choice but "to continue performing in accordance with the bilateral agreement, and thus continue to incur more costs".

He added that Singapore has spent more than $250 million, and is likely to expend another $40 million or so by year-end.

Transcript of Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on the state of Singapore's bilateral relationship with Malaysia -9 Jul 2018

Oral Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Questions on Developments of the HSR Project -9 Jul 2018

High Speed Rail (HSR) and Financial Implications on Government's Expenditure - Parliamentary Reply by 2nd Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong -9 Jul 2018

Capital Reserves in PUB's Accounts - Parliamentary Reply by 2nd Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong -9 Jul 2018

Oral Answer by Ministry of National Development on development plans for Jurong Lake District- 9 Jul 2018

Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail scrapped, then postponed, says Malaysia PM Mahathir Mohamad

Malaysia's Mahathir taunts Singapore over water, again

Can the prices in the 1962 Water Agreement be revised?

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